Real estate is a regulated profession, and the privilege of trading in real estate is dependent on your playing by the rules. Not only is this a hallmark of professionalism, but your career success will depend on it.
The rules are the legislation and regulations that govern the profession, the most important being the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002, and Associated Regulations, which includes the Code of Ethics (collectively known as REBBA 2002).
Playing by the rules also means complying with the standards and policies set out by the regulatory body, the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO), which enforces REBBA 2002 and protects the public interest.
The RECO website (www.reco.on.ca) contains the requisite information you need to play by the rules. It also contains facts and figures relating to complaints, handled by the Complaints and Inquiries Process (RCI). RCI reviews complaints against registrants brought to the attention of the Registrar.
According to RECO, the five most common breaches of the Code of Ethics in 2010-2011 were:
- Unprofessional conduct
- Fairness and honesty
- Best interests
- Conscientious and competent service
Section 39 of the REBBA 2002 Code of Ethics defines “un According to Section 39,
A registrant shall not, in the course of trading in real estate, engage in any act or omission that, having regard to all of the circumstances, would reasonably be regarded as disgraceful, dishonourable, unprofessional or unbecoming a registrant.
The broad definition is meant to capture behaviour that would diminish and cause harm to the image of profession, would put the public interest at risk.
The Discipline Committee hears matters referred to it by the RECO Registrar or Deputy Registrar. Discipline panels determine whether registrants have contravened the Code.
Penalties vary, depending on the nature of the allegations. Potential actions, issued by the Registrar, range from issuing a written warning, to recommending educational courses, to suspending and/or revoking registration if it is in the public interest.
Examples of Unprofessional Conduct Leading to Fines and/or Revocation of Registration [extracted from the RECO 2010 Report]
- Non-payment of insurance
- Accepting remuneration for trading in real estate from a person other than that brokerage that employed you
- Failing to prepare a trust account reconciliation statement
- Failing to review, sign, and date a trust account reconciliation statement
- Failing to deposit trust funds in a trust account
- Failing to disclose convictions to prospective employers
- Falsifying information
- False advertising
- Furnishing false information in an application/application for renewal
- Trading in real estate while not registered
- Withholding documents from an inspector
Stay tuned for future blog posts where we will review some of the more common breaches in more detail.
For More Information
The College offers an e-learning continuing education course entitled “Code of Ethics under REBBA.” For more information, go to http://www.orea.com/OREA-Real-Estate-College/Continuing-Education/e-Learning-Courses/Code-of-Ethics-under-REBBA.